Owning Your Stuff

“We have to address the lid, because if we don’t, it’s going to blow, if we address the lid, we can start working through the things that have been stuffed down”

As those words were said, as her eyes met mine with compassion, not condemnation. I immediately looked at the little girl, who sees the world different then other girls her age. She was quietly coloring, getting lost in what she was doing. I wondered “what does she think about this?”

It wasn’t until days later that I started seeing a change in her. If I had not been careful or responsive to the Lord, I could have missed the very small stride she was taking.

This last year has been intense. I feel like I am always saying that, “it’s been the hardest day of my life” or “this has been the biggest trial”. Yet if I were to look back at 2017 with Ezzy, all that I can say is I.N.T.E.N.S.E.

The day that I saw my breaking point will probably be one of the biggest momentous moments in parenting a child with a scary disease for me. The spiraling downfall that happens on 75% of the mornings was in full swing. Me, overwhelmed with the huge responsibility of getting 4 kids to school on time before the preschool doors were closed. Her, overwhelmed with the never changing to dos in the morning, nebulized medicine 1 & 2, vest, pills, bathroom break #2 and then finally getting to the to do list of a normal child without CF.

We collided.

In the weakest part of me, I parented in anger. I saw the color red. Which invoked the deepest “survival/fighter” instinct in her.

The siblings, stood in shock. Not a single word was uttered after we lashed out on each other. We exhausted the pent up frustrations of CF in our lives to one another.

The car door slammed and I couldn’t help but think “thank God I don’t have to see you till 3:30”.

Minutes after driving away, seeing her slowly walk to the playground, the still small voice that tried redirecting me a mere 15 mins ago, was no longer a whisper, but instead a heart wrenching firmness that came from Godly discipline.

I cried and cried. I found myself on the phone, telling the receptionist, “I don’t know what else to do, we need help, before we break her”

Why is there such shame is seeking out help, especially mental/emotional help? What happened next was such an act of grace.

I received a call, from someone I didn’t know. I was told “I believe I am suppose to meet you, but not in an office, but at a church…I believe you are an answer to my prayers”

As we sat across from a stranger, and two parents that have stuffed and stacked pain, fear, anger and only shared small pieces we could handle to others, unloaded. There we got real. There we took the lid off and didn’t leave anything back.

Ever since that first meeting. Ezzy has been blessed to have a safe place, a place, that she is asked by a trained professional, her daily dealings with CF. A relationship has began to form and a now a voice of reason and truth is able to help unpack the things she has stuffed down.

This year, watching her class go to swim lessons for two weeks about did her in. Her daily journal was filled with words about seeing their wet hair, hearing their stories of the pool or missing out on snacks that she didn’t get to eat while she was home with me.

Thanks to friends who loves at just the right time, Ezzy got to ride in the fire truck, no tagalong mom came. She was sent a care package of art/crafts and was taught how to make a blanket by a patient woman who loves her fiercely.

We talked about the hard stuff as we would drive her to school. She would tell me that it wasn’t fair, but what she finally was able to say, due to the counseling sessions, was that she doesn’t know how to handle it. How she wonders what it’s going to be like when she gets older. What other things will she miss out with her friends on.

I think when they are little the wonderings of adulthood are so heavily laced with an altered reality. Pain, hardships, never ending laundry, bills that show up monthly, hard work environments don’t enter their innocent minds. It’s all, Prince Charming or careers that are shiny and bright that take up the conversation.

When she shared with me, her new discovery of seeing the unknown to be forever impacted by CF, I realized she had lost yet another piece of childhood, that it was robbed.

I believe because of the gift this person has given us to counsel our family in their own personal time, to talk openly about faith, God, the broken world, it has given Ezzy a new perspective on what she can’t escape.

As I read her words on our thanksgiving table cloth, I realized it again, that God has protected her heart. That even when it has felt he is far away and he has not swooped down and picked her up when I thought it was the right time, he has been there laying the ground work for her.

There has been more releases of joy from her, more times in the last few months that I can remember. Like laugh out loud, no hand over the mouth or muffled giggle. It has been real and for everyone to get a ripple from.

I get little notes left for me. What seemed unrepairable, has begun to mend as we address our lids. There are more hugs given, there is a vulnerability to talk and not stuff with each other. As if we have forgotten our broken ways of not showing weakness and not letting people in.

I have seen the power in having a safe place to share your stuff and to be able to own it.

Because somehow, she has decided to own CF. Yes there still have been hard days, days where she just wants to be normal like her siblings and not have to be stuck to a machine. But those days have lessened. Instead she has put her energy into identifying that she has been given this life and she is going to find a way to not let CF ruin it.

After being denied the life changing med, her team has decided to run tests again to see if her body has healed and we can start it. We are patiently awaiting news anyway now and are hopeful that the answer will be yes. But if it’s not, we are all willing to address the lid and own our stuff through it.

Ezzy May,

Today you are 8! It’s crazy, because you have made me take mental pictures of your life and it seems impossible , because the doctors placed fear and doubt in my heart that shouldn’t have been held onto. I could be angry with them, but instead I am seeing how it has brought beauty. Because I have so many vivid memories of your childhood.

It wasn’t until you were asking your daddy last night about your birth story that I realized, 8 yrs is really long. My brain was in over drive recalling so many events. When you brought up the picture of me crying as I stood over you with all the wires, you looked me straight in the eyes. I believe you needed me to take a step of bravery and own that moment and not stuff it away and shut down. So I didn’t stuff, we talked about how scared I was. But then you quickly moved on to one of your favorite stories. The one that had the nursing staff on the Giraffe floor cheering and giving high fives over your first bowel movement.

Thank you for helping me work though my stuff. Thank you for modeling the healing that comes when we are willing to take the lid off and let the other things be addressed.

Thank you for helping me replace the sad memories with your laughter as you see them in the innocence of a child.

I pray this next year, as you are learning new tools to get you through the tough stuff that you keep your hope alive. That when the fears you have begun to dread about the unknown and what CF will do to your life, won’t define your days. Instead, that they will awaken the survival/ fighter mode that I have seen in you.

Ezzy girl, I love that you watch me. It’s not weird to me anymore, because I pray that as you see me own my junk, that you see I am unpacking it with our Heavenly Father, the wonderful counselor, and he is ready to help you too.

Ezrah May, means “a great discerning help”. I have watched you live these words this last year and am thankful that you are helping shape me into the woman/mother a God intended me to be.

Happy birthday my love, I think it’s pretty special God gave you the gift you have been asking for SNOW!

He is for me

During a recent conversation I was asked where do I see myself in 5 yrs. It wasn’t just a simple question, it was being asked in reference to a bigger picture then I thought was on the table. The answer came quickly. Quite frankly I was shocked at my inner-self for saying what came next with such ownership as well as clarity. But after I replayed the conversation in my head (because let’s get real, that’s how I constantly operate) I knew what I had said was as true as it gets. There was no filter or preplanned response. I spoke from the heart.

Before I share what I said. I believe what took place in the waiting is what matters most in this little story.

By the way, to all of you who take the time, yes, TIME to read my ponderings. Thank you. It seems so small to write these words. For so long I wondered if blogging was really important. I journaled for me, the thought of sharing my innermost thoughts with the big wide world terrified me. “What will they think of me” or “how will this change the way they see me” or “man, she is a MESS”, taunted me more times then I want to admit. My greatest foe is my mind. Ha, there goes another rabbit trail. But seriously thank you. Your feedback, support and willingness to say “hey I see you and still like you” means a lot.

I believe I started to dream for my future the moment I realized that it wasn’t dependent on someone else. That I could pave the way and not wait around for Mr. perfect. I had planned to work in the medical field. I didn’t end up in the career I had hoped to, but still found my way, passionate as ever and willing to try to make an impact.

I had every intention to never let the 50s mentality of a “woman’s place” in the home be something I ever aspired to. Yet as I looked into the big deep black eyes of my miracle first born, I found immense grief at the thought of leaving him with someone else for 9 hours each work day. Through Gods design, I have yet to ever experience something my heart never wanted as I realized being a mom was what I was made to be. I have survived, treaded water, and yes, thrown the towel in more times then I could count. Tears, sobs, spilled milk, interrupted bathroom breaks, and nap time success being the measure of a good day has defined my identity in the work force for the last 9.75 years. I have fought resentment with my husband and his always growing PTO days or sick leave. I have envied…I am getting real with you, my friends who I run into at Safeway with their clean clothes, makeup, painted nails, holding a freshly brewed Starbucks. All while I stand there in yoga pants, a stretched out shirt, messy hair and more then one child wielding their power over me and my hopes of leaving the grocery store without being the train wreck everyone can’t take their eyes off.

When the call to ministry took place in my life. It came during a time that I couldn’t have felt more ill prepared or better yet equipped. I was 11wks away from having Kyrene. I had served in such a minimal role that I didn’t think or believe what I brought to the table could or would have an impact. I didn’t even see myself as a bandaid. I was the gauze or alcohol wipe that would only have mere seconds of use, not a chance of a few days of surviving the washing and fuzz that gathers around a few days old bandaid.

September 11,2011. I said, “here I am, God use me”.

Ever since that day I have experienced joy greater then my heart could contain and pain deeper then my heart thought it could mend. What no one wants to tell you when you are a new ministry worker is that the pain and attacks won’t come from those outside the flock, but instead those within. I faced my fair share of attacks. With that said, I absolutely had my part in them. My brokenness. My coping mechanisms or better yet my self preservation tactics kept me from truly knowing my enemy and I waged ware against humans and not against the very ruler of the dark world.

Many, many, many times I went to my mentor and said, “I don’t want this, let someone else do this”. Ken in his godly wisdom wouldn’t let me run. Run from the fear, pain and reality that if I claimed to be a child of a God that it meant that I needed to be pursuing a life of holiness, peace or love.

In the last 6 years I have witnessed restoration in ways that I never saw in my mind as I wondered what God was doing.

So flash forward to the recent conversation. Had I hoped it would take place sooner the later? Um, yes.

But it wasn’t until I filled out the application. Until my hand cramped from the 11 page document. When I pushed the packer back, with sweat dripping from my forehead and the heaviness on my heart that I realized I was not ready until that very moment. The thing that I had thought I was ready for, dreamt of, or suffered long as I awaited, was something that in my deepest need of redemptive love I would have messed up had it come on my time line.

You see, I was so wrapped up in the checklist of grace, that I convinced myself that if I faked it until I made it that eventually I would believe it. That somehow if I played the part, the hurts and memories would fade. But they never did.

As years went by. As more time was poured into the role, without earthly rewards, I found myself question my worth more and more. I needed affirmation…I needed to hear that I was important. I had in mind what it would take to make me feel valuable. Years went by, I didn’t receive what I needed. Not because I was undervalued. But because they very validation I needed, I was running to man and not God to give me.

It wasn’t until very recently that I sought out a person who had deeply wounded me. Who’s hurts against me I had carried, watered, loved, tended to. I prayed with every step as I walked towards them. The norm of running or deflecting when I saw their face was gone. Nope, not that day. I humbly approached them. Head tucked, tail between my legs. Every possible way of showing humility was given, I didn’t want even a hint of a fight to be wrongly perceived. I asked, “will you pray with me?”. That day. As two people filled with hurts to heavy to carry anymore, weights that were drug here and there, wrapped tightly around ankles and causing bleeding with each stride were broken. I prayed blessings over their life, marriage, family, their calling in the kingdom, the restoration between us that we have not seen, the power to believe that we are for each other. I released my hand off their shoulder, I looked right into their eyes, something I hadn’t done in years and thanked them.

That day I walked in the very identity that Christ came to the world to show me was and is mine.

I have allowed for far too long the grip of death that the enemy of our hearts brings as we lean on ourselves instead of going to the Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace brought when he entered the world.

This advent has a whole new meaning for me.

The little girl that could stare at Christmas lights as all the other lights were out, now sees the light in the darkness (Jesus), expels the shadows that have been there for too along, and leads me out of the darkness that wanted me to never seek or pursue restoration.

As the star was placed on our tree by my little caboose tonight it served as the hope of a savior that propelled wise men to pack up, journey a far distance to a lowly place. A small city that meant nothing to the world, to search for a child that the hope of the world awaited for.

Yes, for the next 20 days, I am choosing to seek and search for God in the hard stuff. But also rejoice as I see that he planned long ago for me to be victorious in things that I thought could never be redeemed.

I am excited to share with you all, that after 6 years of volunteering as the worship leader at my church. I will be staffed come January 1, 2018. I will also be managing the teaching ministry at our church and begin to preach more as it is needed. This last year of preaching and filling in has been a massive learning curve, but never more humbling and such a blessing. Feeding his sheep, those 3 words bring tears to my eyes as I embrace what I know God desired for me as he knit me in my mother’s womb. I will be working towards consecration and ordination as well, with the hope of being a licensed pastor once all my courses are completed.

Yes, as I drew my breath 33 yrs ago, God said “everyone, come and see, that’s my baby girl! Wait till you see what she does!”

She will find herself planning worship services and finding ways to usher my children into my throne room, preparing their hearts to hear my voice and trust and know I am speaking to them! She will endure, face trial after trial and she will learn where her source of hope comes from and choose to stay planted in me against it all.

I spent too long wandering, trying to find my worth and identity in things that could never fulfill. I detested and agonized over the waiting. I questioned and doubted if I really mattered. I allowed the enemy to tell me I was easily replaced and served no real purpose.

But now I see that I had to be in the waiting. I had to go through things that made me see that my hope is in Christ alone. I had to understand what crazy undeserved grace was before I could authentically give it. I couldn’t fake it till I made it.

I don’t know what season you are in, but let’s face it, if you are here on earth, you haven’t reached fulfillment, things, job promotions, money, friendships, toys, stuff never make it all ok. Am I right?

I want to encourage you this advent season to be intentional in pursuing the King. To try and find out what it means to have a Savior. He came for you, me and everyone walking and breathing on this earth. It’s crazy to think that all those years I was being pursued. Now that I see that, I am content in pursuing him. To actively see him in the mundane, the pain, the stress, the good, he is there. He has never left me.

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” Luke 4:18

Merry CHRISTmas my friends 🎄